As a nurse, talking with patients is one of my favorite things to do. It’s wonderful interacting with patients and their families while providing the knowledge and resources that empower them to take control of their health.
Patient education is a key component of nursing practice and is integral for parents during those early childhood years. Especially since it’s hard to know everything you need to know to raise a child on day one. At some point during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or postpartum, new parents will encounter a nurse. Take advantage of the opportunity and allow them to share their knowledge of parenting and child development.
Physical Health Care
Nurses play an important role in the physical health care of both parents and their children. They can address concerns about the complications of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the physical health of newborns.
In addition, nurses can provide patient and family education on the identification of health problems in children and when it is appropriate to seek medical care. You are confronting a new frontier. Don’t be afraid to talk about your body or your newborn.
Is it normal to feel. . . .?
Those first few days and months are nerve-racking to say the least. The hazards of life are all around us, and it can be hard to know how to spot them while also navigating a lack of sleep or, sometimes even more intense stressors like; navigating recovery from a substance use disorder, postpartum anxiety and depression, or even financial problems.
Guiding parents toward a safe environment for their children is also something that nurses can assist with and it’s free to parents in many communities. Parents can have a nurse visit their home and provide education about safety issues such as smoke detectors; safe spaces for children to play, sleep, and eat meals; and other activities that may best promote well-being.
Can I take you home with me? I’ve heard the term “home visiting,” but I’m not sure what it means.
All new parents need help! So, building supportive relationships is important. Nurses can link new parents to resources and people in the community that assist with things like child care or connecting to parent groups.
Just ask for a list. Colorado Shines is one example of a community resource for parents which provides information, education and support for families with newborns and young children.
Any tips on the best resources for parents to find _____ in town?
One of the five protective factors for preventing child maltreatment is knowledge of parenting and child development. Unfortunately, there isn’t a manual to prepare you for your journey through parenthood. So, it’s natural to talk to your family, friends and professionals you trust about what to know and where to go to ensure your kids are healthy, valued and thriving. Multiple studies have examined the relationship between the role of nurses and the development of parenting during early childhood care. Findings indicate that nurses can be an important source of information for parents during the first few years of caring for their children.
Nurses can guide new parents in areas including physical health care, safe environments and developing support networks. Talk to us. We’ve heard it all before and we can help. It’s one of the most amazing parts about our job.
About the Author
Kenneth Oja is an assistant professor of nursing and nurse research scientist in Colorado who assists nurses in conducting research to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes.
Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late.
One father’s words of wisdom this Father’s Day. “Eventually, I had to let that go and realize that there is no way I can do this alone. I need the support of other stay at home fathers, parents and a community to help me get through the harder times.”
We asked parents, “if you met yourself three years ago – what parenting advice would you share?” This is what they told us.